By MARY BURGER – STAFF WRITER
Centre Action Reaches Everyone, or CARE as it is better known, is a prominent service club on campus. This week, CARE has been sponsoring Poverty and Homelessness Week as a way for students to be more aware of all that they have to be thankful for in their lives.
Although CARE sponsors many events on campus, such as the blood drive, CARE Trick or Treat, and Salvation Army Christmas Trees, this week is one of their biggest events of the semester.
The kick-off for the week began on Sat., Nov. 16 with a service plunge. The service plunge happened in four service locations across central Kentucky, including the Catholic Action Center and Soups on Us. All of these service organizations deal with poverty in their respective communities. A member of CARE Executive Board, Jessica Brewer, has been highly involved in the coordination of this service plunge.
“The goal of this service plunge [was] to get students to start thinking about these issues by confronting them face to face, but also by giving back to the community and seeing what impact it can have on these issues,” Brewer said.
Poverty and Homelessness Week runs Nov. 18 – Nov. 22, with events each day. On Mon. Nov. 18, a Lecture Slam was held in the campus center. This gave students and faculty the opportunity to share two to five minute speeches on their thoughts about poverty and homelessness.
A convocation opportunity occurred on Tuesday night with a discussion of these issues titled “Poverty, Homelessness, and Healthcare.”
At the convo, Centre graduate Robertson Nash, class of ‘83, spoke about the social context of homelessness. Nash has extensive experience as a Nurse Practitioner in Nashville where he worked with HIV/AIDS patients at the Comprehensive Care Center at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
Wednesday also hosted several events for the week. One such event is the Oxfam Hunger Banquet, which, according to Brewer, is “a dinner to stimulate the impact hunger has on our world as a whole. It is a personal and kind of in your face way of looking at hunger.”
Wednesday was also the first day of the World Market, running during meal times through Fri., Nov. 22. Also on Friday is the Oxfam Fast, which is an opportunity for students to donate a meal swipe to inspire reflection on what it is like to go without a meal.
The World Market is a new event within Poverty and Homelessness Week. This event allows students, faculty, and staff to purchase holiday presents while also helping those in need around the world.
“It’s just a beautiful way to help offset the systemic problem of poverty while at the same point in time demonstrating their love through gift giving during the holidays,” Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Science and Director of Community Service and the Bonner Program Matthew Klooster said.
Some organizations were brought in for this event, such as Beads for Life. “The beads they sell are all produced by people who live in impoverished areas and they are produced from recycled paper. These items are then collected by the organization, sold to people like us, and then the profits are given to those who made them. It is a way for these people to have a steady income,” Klooster said.
Another opportunity the World Market gives is the opportunity to purchase trilingual dictionaries for students in Burma. These dictionaries cost only $5 and allows a student to learn English as well as other languages native to that region.
“Burma is revitalizing their educational systems so these are kind of critical to their revitalization process. So instead of a cup of Starbucks coffee you can buy a child in Burma a dictionary,” Klooster said.
Poverty and Homelessness Week also allowed other organizations to get involved with the issue in many various ways.
Centre fraternities Delta Kappa Epsilon collected food for Harvesting Hope the Saturday of the Service Plunge, and Phi Kappa Tau and Centre Democrats will continue that food collection on Sat., Nov. 23, the final day of Poverty and Homelessness Week.
All of the donations go to Harvesting Hope, a local food bank that is in danger of shutting down due to loss of funding.
The week also gives students the opportunity to artistically reflect on the issues. Outside of Cowan there were three banners on which students were encouraged to respond to questions such as “I am thankful for…”
The banners are meant to be a reflective, beautiful piece of artwork that will hang in Cowan until Thanksgiving.
“People are encouraged to draw pictures and write whatever they want…It will be kind of a really neat social piece,” Klooster said.
Poverty and Homelessness Week gives students a chance to reflect on how much there is to be thankful for. In the spirit of the holiday season, it presents a fantastic time and opportunity to remember those who are in need everywhere in the world.
The week would not have been possible without the work of Dr. Axtell, Dr. Klooster, Mark Addison, Jessica Brewer, Kristen Means, and especially Katrina Ayoub, who has been described as the “superstar” of the week. For those interested in learning more about this subject, Dr. Axtell’s Poverty and Homelessness is a popular class which offers further knowledge on this subject. Contact Dr. Axtell for more information on the class.